By Nicholas Bellacicco, FARE Teen Advisory Group
My Food Allergy Action Hero is my current college roommate Dylan Bridwell. I am severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and sheep/goat milk. Coming into college I was nervous about rooming with someone who would not care about my allergies. Not only is it scary to begin eating in many different dining halls on campus, not having an understanding roommate is a major concern for many people living with food allergies. Many people do not understand that having the allergens in the room could potentially lead to an anaphylactic reaction. I had a huge fear that I would have a roommate that would love peanut butter and my room would feel more dangerous than comforting. However, I was fortunate to find a friend like Dylan.
Dylan is my action hero because he chooses not to eat any of the foods I cannot eat in our room. He understands how serious food allergies are and he wants to do everything he can to make sure I feel safe while at college. He makes sure that I stay safe by knowing how to use an epinephrine auto-injector in case of emergency. Dylan also advocates for food allergies by letting others know of the severity of food allergies. When we go out to eat with our friends, Dylan makes sure to find a safe place where I can eat. This small gesture truly shows that Dylan understands the burden that comes with living with severe food allergies.
As this year of college comes to an end, I have realized the importance of advocating the severity of food allergies to my closest friends. Dylan has become an advocate for food allergies after learning about the severity of this disease. I know that in the future if he needs to give someone an epinephrine auto-injector he can do it. I also know that if he meets anyone down the road that has food allergies he will be able to understand their concerns. Next year I will be living with three more of my friends. Due to Dylan’s understanding and concern I have seen the importance of advocating food allergies on my college campus. I look forward to teaching my future roommates all about the severity of food allergies and I know Dylan will help me with this task.
Nicholas Bellacicco, age 19, is a college student born and raised in Stamford, CT. He is currently in his sophomore year at Baylor University in Waco, TX studying Medical Humanities on the pre-med track. Nicholas is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and sheep/goat milk.
May is Food Allergy Action Month! We are profiling and thanking our Food Allergy Action Heroes throughout the month of May to show the many ways that our community is making a difference. Go to www.foodallergyweek.org to learn more about how you can take action and become a Food Allergy Action Hero yourself!